The Military, Key Element in Peace Missions

By Dialogo
January 25, 2013

United Nations peace missions are generally carried out by military and police groups under their own doctrine and organization to act in these kinds of non-war operations. In my opinion, the Armed Forces are the most highly qualified institution to contribute to peace, since they have a solid moral and military instruction.

Within the Armed Forces, there are different units capable of performing assigned roles; whether combat, air, land, or maritime units with their own logistic autonomy allowing them to deploy quickly with their combat and logistical means.

Land combat forces are the most highly exposed to direct, first-line military action, so they must be highly trained to overcome unexpected events, to move forward, and finally stabilize an unstable region. This can be achieved by means of highly cohesive professional units and common doctrine. Efficiency and effectiveness will be possible due to their low rotation, knowledge of people, mutual trust and high level of training.

In the case of Chile’s experience in peace missions, specifically in Haiti, our Military forces are highly prestigious due to their professionalism, team spirit and responsibility to support the Chilean State’s foreign policy: to contribute to regional peace and stability.

The Chilean Armed Forces have deployed over 15 military groups consisting of Chilean Army, Marines and Navy personnel, as well as Air Force components that have fulfilled these missions.

The current situation in Haiti is extremely fragile, mainly due to its low degree of governability and public institutional organization that, in addition to its exposure to natural disasters, may jeopardize its internal security at any time. This situation is also affected by the lack of Haitian Military forces and the country’s reduced police force, including limited equipment and training.

We shouldn’t forget that peace does not justify the loss of human lives. So far, no Chilean force members were killed during these operations, and we must take every measure to prevent this from happening. Political responsibility will entail participation in these missions and the institutions should always be responsible for deploying professional units, capable of fulfilling their tasks, being highly knowledgeable in peace operations, human rights, land combat, and maintaining a high sense of adaptability regarding the processes of security and stability recovery of a given region.

As well as in other parts of the world, military forces in Haiti must widen their vision beyond the military arena and learn to have a better understanding of civic peace organizations. Every peace operation must be composed of interagency support, which respects civic institutions, with their experiences and their view of reality. Military forces in peace operations will always be a great contribution to foreign state policy, since they perform as ambassadors of the countries they represent.

*The ideas expressed in this article are based on the experiences of Chilean Marine’s Captain Claudio Escalona Encalada, U.N. Military observer at the Arabic-Israeli conflict (2003), and as Chilean Battalion Commander in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (2008). Currently, he performs as Chilean Liaison Officer at the United States Southern Command.